Charity by sewing machine

A visit to a children’s hospice left an indelible impression on her. Using her creative skills, decorative seamstress Hannelore Berenz began a fundraiser. This is the story of how an old pair of jeans can become a good deed.

Hannelore Berenz hurries home after working all day at her sewing machine in an interior decorating company. A tingling sensation in her fingers to implement a new creation of her own prompts her to work quickly so she can devote herself to a new idea in her small sewing studio at home.

She has fabricated all the curtains in the house, along with all the pillows and tableware, she relates. “Ever since we became grandparents, I began sewing children’s clothes once again.” When asked about her favourite piece, Hannelore Berenz points to her wedding dress. “I met—and fell in love with—my husband Kurt in 1977, and through him I became acquainted with the New Apostolic faith.” Their home congregation is Neustadt an der Weinstraße (district of Rhineland Palatinate, Germany).

An inspiration with implications

At a Christmas market a few years ago, Hannelore Berenz discovered a booth that was selling purses as a benefit for a children’s hospice. The enthusiastic seamstress quite liked this idea, so she made note of it as a project for the future. “I thought to myself: when I retire and have a little more time, I could also sew some purses and offer them for sale—and for a good cause.” She would have a few years until then, she figured…

But the couple could not shake the idea that the sale of these items was intended as a donation for a children’s hospice. So it was that Hannelore and Kurt Berenz decided to pay a visit to this facility. “We were very warmly welcomed and given a tour of the premises „We were impressed by how nicely and lovingly everything here was crafted.” The couple quickly realised that, unlike an adult hospice, a children's hospice is primarily a place of life and recreation for families with seriously ill children.

Hannelore and Kurt Berenz experienced that death is also grimly present in the children's hospice. “The ‘farewell room’ was particularly moving, but also very depressing. Here too our hearts were much moved by the lovingly crafted wall adorned with pictures and the favourite stuffed toys of children who had passed away. Our thoughts immediately stretched into the beyond. We felt the need to intercede for the souls of these children.”

A very well received campaign

After this visit to the hospice, there was nothing that could slow Hannelore down. She no longer wanted to wait until she was retired, but decided instead to get started right away. Her plan was to use old, worn-out jeans and other materials to sew purses and sell them for the benefit of the children’s hospice. “My employer, my brothers and sisters at church, along with many friends and acquaintances, likewise thought that this was a good idea, so they began supporting me by donating materials.”

It takes the practised seamstress three hours to produce a single purse—and since Christmas 2018, Hannelore Berenz has sewn 160 purses—each one of them a unique piece. “My friends and the members of the congregation also support me with the sale of the purses by advertising for me.” The fundraiser was well received: in the space of a few short weeks, some 2,800 Euros were collected—and presented to the “Sterntaler” children’s hospice in Dudenhofen on 28 January 2019.

Support is spreading

“The joy I felt at presenting the donation motivates me to carry on,” says Hannelore Berenz. “With this fundraiser I would like to draw awareness to the fact that not everyone in Germany is healthy and happy. The children in particular should be close to our hearts. Perhaps we can do our part to help these children enjoy a few more pleasant and happy hours in the circle of their families.”

Hannelore Berenz is delighted by the active support she has received from her congregation. “In the meantime, other congregations have also decided to participate in the campaign by donating materials and purchasing purses in order to thereby support the children’s hospice.”

This article was originally published in the German magazine “Unsere Familie”, edition 13/2019.

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Dinara Ganzer
Social commitment, Congregational life